In this article, I’ll share with you some of my favorite tips for how you can use an Alexa to help save you money on regular household costs. Amazon’s Alexa technology can help to simplify many areas of your life. From automating home appliances to tracking your personal calendar and making online purchases, this digital assistant can help you save big bucks, too.
One of the first things I did once purchasing Echo was set up my lights and appliances on “smart” outlets. I knew this could maximize my electricity savings and really started cutting back on my energy usage at home. Believe me when I say it’s an EASY process, too, even if you’re not the “techy” type.
To get started, route your major electronics through a smart plug. Don’t feel like you should buy one for every room of the house right away– start with one and track your energy usage from room to room for a few weeks. You can use the Alexa Energy Dashboard app to identify which appliances are the “energy vampires” around the house.
Some spots I didn’t realize were sucking so much power came as a surprise. This is where the Dashboard can help you make informed comparisons. Try your smart plug with the following items to get a baseline on what is using the most energy in your home. Here were some of my worst offenders:
I kid you not, this was one of the worst areas of waste in my whole house. It’s not like I have a plasma tv and a spotlight plugged in next to my bed, but I do have a white noise machine, my cell phone charger, and a small lamp. While these are in use overnight, I stop needing them the minute I’m up in the morning.
Using a smart power strip, I added an Amazon Echo Dot to the mix. Now, when I wake up in the morning, I say, “Alexa, turn off the bedroom.” It’s so simple, and now there’s no dangling phone plug sucking energy through the day. The entire power strip can be controlled by voice, and it makes savings super easy.
Who doesn’t have a stack of things plugged into their living room wall? Lamps, televisions, chargers, modems, routers, smart TV boxes– the list goes on. After tackling my bedroom, I plugged the same smart-strip setup into my living area. “Alexa, turn off the living room” are the magic words to saving money and shrinking our carbon footprint when we’re away from the house. It’s almost like adding loose change to my electric bill while we are out, and I barely have to think about it.
The kitchen was an easy one-two punch for me. At my house, the microwave and coffee maker are both plugged into the same outlet. The coffee maker runs for about five minutes each morning, and I’ll fire up the microwave a few times a week for leftovers (thanks, Instapot!). But keeping these plugged in all the time? More of a waste than I’d guessed. With an easy “Alexa, turn off the coffee pot” and “Alexa, turn off the microwave,” I can power-off these appliances when they aren’t in use. If you’re not using these appliances to keep time anyway, don’t worry about resetting the clock each time.
Some thermostats are Alexa-compatible, with more joining this list all the time. Even if you have a programmable thermostat already, trust me: it’s pretty fantastic to turn down the temp a few degrees without budging from under your pile of blankets on the couch.
All this to say: hitting a light switch may be second nature when you leave a room, but adding Alexa technology to your house can lower your electric bill by quite a bit. Identify your worst-offending “energy vampires” by using a simple app, and cut them off when they’re not actively in use. The U.S. Department of Energy has reported that doing so can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
If you’re concerned about your power bill skyrocketing, you’ll be relieved to know that Alexa products do not fall in the “energy vampire” category. In fact, they’re energy-efficient both in standby mode and while in use. An Echo Dot operating 24/7 for a full year would only run you about $7. If you’re taking full advantage of your Alexa device and its features, you’re already lining up to save much more than you spend.
You might worry about monthly or annual fees attached to your device. No need to worry– there is no subscription fee. But keep in mind you’ll get the most out of your Alexa product if you have an Amazon Prime account, which is optional and bills either monthly or annually (your choice). Prime will give you free streaming television and video, plus free 2-day shipping on most of your Amazon orders– so the service really does pay for itself quickly. Think of it as similar to wholesale club membership fees, like you would pay at Costco.
Your Alexa can help you save the most money in your kitchen; she truly shines when you ask for grocery help. Whether tightening your grocery list or aiming to reduce food waste, this little device has helped me do both.
As I run out of an ingredient, I’ll add it to my shopping list. Whatever the offending low-stock item is: olive oil, milk, peanut butter– I’ll tell Alexa to add it to my grocery list, right when the empty package is in my hands.
My grocery list then syncs with the Alexa app on my phone: no more guesswork in the aisles. Are we totally out of eggs? Should I grab more just in case? What about cereal? –my days of stockpiling groceries and letting five avocados spoil because I couldn’t remember what was on hand are over.
Wondering how to store a tomato properly? How to keep an apple from browning? Can you safely eat yogurt past its sell-by date? Curb food waste and save money each week by consulting Alexa with the questions you don’t have time to stop and search for online.
If my hands are occupied feeding the dog or chopping vegetables, I’ll shamelessly multi-task and ask about the shelf life of that bread on the counter or whether I’ve added paper towels to our shopping list yet. This girl (well, this electronic device) has got my back. And she doesn’t judge me for asking an eleventh time if I’ve added mayo to the shopping list (I have).
How many teaspoons are in a cup? You’ll never have to cast around for a conversion table again. Just ask Alexa– she knows both Imperial and Metric systems to help you mix, bake, and cook, even when you have your hands full.
In some markets, you can even sync your utility bills to pay using your Alexa device. Check your balance, due date, and even submit a payment verbally, whenever it crosses your mind, or set a reminder for yourself. You’ll never miss a due date again!
I wouldn’t recommend browsing Amazon’s Deal of the Day on your lunch break– you may fall down a rabbit hole and convince yourself you need new earrings, a new microwave, and a tool kit. Just because something is a great deal does not mean you need it.
However, if you are in the market for something specific– a Chromebook, a yoga mat, an electric kettle, whatever– Alexa can help you keep tabs on when a good deal arises. Ask her for today’s “Top Deals,” and she’ll share what Amazon’s best limited-time deals are, offering savings of up to 60 and 70% off the original price.
Now that you know some of the many ways Alexa can help you save money, you may be wondering how to buy one at the best price. Let me fill you in on a brilliant life-hack. One of my favorite sites on the web is camelcamelcamel, an Amazon price-tracking tool. Simply plug in the item you’d like (for fun, I asked it to track a 4th Generation Echo Dot).
While the price on this device hovers around $49.99 pretty consistently, the Amazon pricing algorithm has its moments. Like on November 21, 2020, when it plummeted to $28.99. Luckily I’d set up an e-mail alert for if the product dipped below the $30 mark. I was able to scoop up the short-lived deal and save over 40%.
An Alexa device can simplify tons of daily tasks. Some highlights include:
For my other favorite shopping hacks, on everything from cosmetics to cable service, be sure to follow my blog and sign up for updates!